Jay Jay Okocha, Jonathan Akpoborie, and 6 Greatest Nigerians to Play in Bundesliga

Jay Jay Okocha, Jonathan Akpoborie, and 6 Greatest Nigerians to Play in Bundesliga

Edwin Kiplagat
February 21, 2024 at 1:07 PM
In this article:
Bundesliga logo
GER Bundesliga
Victor Okoh Boniface logo
V. O. Boniface
Bayer Leverkusen logoFNigeria logo
S. Oliseh
  • The Bundesliga has witnessed some talented Nigerians
  • Jay-Jay Okocha was the first Nigerian player in the league
  • Jonathan Akpoborie scored 60 goals in the Bundesliga

Victor Boniface has taken the Bundesliga by storm this season, joining a long list of Nigerian footballers to make their mark in Germany's top flight.

Players hailing from the West African country continue winning the hearts and minds of fans across Europe with their talent on the pitch.

Jay-Jay Okocha, Bundesliga, Jonathan Akpoborie, Victor Agali, Sunday Oliseh, Nigeria, Victor Osimhen, Victor Boniface
Victor Boniface is following in Jay-Jay Okocha's footsteps in the Bundesliga. Photos by Ralf Ibing - firo sportphoto and Picture Alliance.
Source: Getty Images

Nigerian footballers have featured in Europe's top five leagues for decades, helping some of their teams win league and European crowns.

As Boniface continues his incredible campaign with Bayer Leverkusen, Sports Brief looks at some of the best Nigerians to play in Germany.

6 Nigerians to play in Bundesliga

Honourable mentions: Victor Osimhen, Pascal Ojigwe, Leon Balogun, Anthony Ujah, Obafemi Martins.

6. Taiwo Awoniyi - Mainz, Union Berlin

The Nottingham Forest striker made his name in Germany, first with Mainz, then Union Berlin. He scored 21 Bundesliga goals in 64 appearances before moving to England.

His breakout season in 2021/22 saw him score 15 goals in 31 games in the league. That season, Union Berlin finished fifth in the league.

5. Victor Boniface - Bayer Leverkusen

Boniface joined Leverkusen this season, and he has been outstanding. He has 10 league goals in 16 games, and his team is flying in the Bundesliga. They are eight points clear of giants, Bayern Munich. Boniface and Xabi Alonso's side are on track to win their first-ever league title.

4. Sunday Oliseh - Cologne, Borussia Dortmund, Bochum

Oliseh was part of the Nigerian Golden Generation that won the 1994 AFCON and the gold medal at the Olympics in 1996. After impressing at Cologne in the mid-90s, Ajax bought him. The Super Eagles legend then moved to Juventus before returning to Germany with Dortmund. The defensive midfielder made 139 Bundesliga appearances, scoring six goals.

3. Victor Agali - Hansa Rostock, Schalke

The striker replaced another Nigerian at Hansa Rostock in the late 1990s. He enjoyed his time in Germany, where he scored 32 goals in 143 Bundesliga appearances, per Transfermarkt. Only one Nigerian played more games in the Bundesliga than the imposing centre-forward.

2. Jonathan Akpoborie - Hansa Rostock, VfB Stuttgart, Wolfsburg

Before getting to the Bundesliga, Lagos-born Akpoborie played in the lower division with the likes of Saarbrücken, Carl Zeiss Jena, and Stuttgarter Kickers. After Rostock signed him in 1996, he became one of the best strikers in Germany.

Goals continued to flow when he joined Stuttgart in 1997 and Wolfsburg in 1999. In total, he made 144 Bundesliga appearances and scored 60 goals, the most by a Nigerian in the league.

1. Jay-Jay Okocha - Eintracht Frankfurt

Okocha was a household name in European football for many years in the 1990s and early 2000s. He was the first Nigerian to play in the Bundesliga. He started with Borussia Neunkirchen before joining Eintracht Frankfurt in 1992.

In August 1993, against Karlsruhe, Okocha scored arguably his best ever goal. After receiving the ball in the box, he toyed with the legendary Oliver Kahn before scoring. It was the goal of the year in 1993. He left the club in 1996 after 90 Bundesliga appearances, 18 goals and 13 assists.

Nigerian stars in Serie A

Sports Brief earlier reported on the greatest Nigerian players in the Serie A. After winning the top flight league in France, Taribo West moved to Italy to play for Inter Milan and AC Milan.

2023 African Footballer of the Year, Osimhen, moved to Italy in 2020 and is easily the best Nigerian to play in Italy's league. Obafemi Martins and Simeon 'Simy' Nwankwo also made the list.

Nigerian stars in Ligue 1

Sports Brief also previously reported on the best Nigerians to play in Ligue 1, France's top tier league.

Vincent Enyeama's spell at Lille was memorable, with John Utaka and Victor Ikpeba leaving their mark.

Before heading to Inter Milan, Taribo West lit up Ligue 1 with Auxerre and left the club as a champion.

Edwin Kiplagat photo
Edwin Kiplagat
Edwin Kiplagat has five years of experience in journalism working as a Sports Editor at Africa Insight Communications and ESPN. Edwin Kiplagat is a Bachelor's Degree holder in journalism from the Multimedia University of Kenya.